This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

April 23, 2014

Energy Department Announces $4.4 Million to Support Hydropower

The Energy Department on April 16 announced $4.4 million to support the application of advanced materials and manufacturing techniques in developing next-generation hydropower technologies. As a part of the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, this funding opportunity supports the Department’s broader effort to increase the efficiency of the U.S. manufacturing sector and ensure that innovative clean energy technologies continue to be made in America.

The funding will help researchers develop low-cost, integrated hydropower turbine-generator sets that can produce cost-competitive electricity at low-head sites—those with a change in elevation between 2 and 20 meters. To fully take advantage of the generating capacity of existing resources, the funding will pioneer new designs that apply advanced materials and innovative manufacturing techniques to next-generation, low-head hydropower systems that are:

  • lightweight, modular, self-contained, and easily shipped and installed upon delivery

  • able to operate efficiently at variable speeds in a diverse range of water conditions

  • cost-competitive and able to compete with local pricing

  • made with advanced materials and manufacturing techniques to maximize efficiency and improve performance

There are significant opportunities nationwide to substantially increase the efficiency of existing hydropower equipment and add new generating capabilities at low-head sites ideal for small hydropower applications. These types of waterways are typically capable of providing between 100 and 30,000 kilowatts of renewable energy capacity, and are often located at existing non-powered dams, canals and conduits across diverse areas of the United States. Additionally, many of these potential sites are close to existing transmission lines, roads, and infrastructure, reducing economic and permitting barriers and environmental impacts from the expansion of these hydro-ready water resources. See the Energy Department news release.